SCHENECTADY -- Construction on the new Schenectady rail station should start in January, now that the state comptroller's office has signed off on the work.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo released a statement Friday saying work on the long-delayed, much anticipated downtown project will start soon.
“With construction set to start next month, New York State’s investment in a new and improved Schenectady Rail Station will help the Electric City continue its renewal and serve as a key economic driver for the Capital Region,” Cuomo said. “All across New York, we are making record investments in our state’s infrastructure, in the process revitalizing communities and local economies. Once completed, this new rail station will help attract thousands of new visitors to Schenectady and the entire region."
Thomas P. DiNapoli completed the required review of the contract and approved it Wednesday. That frees the state Department of Transportation to have Murnane Building Contractors, of Plattsburgh, start work.
The office of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman already reviewed and approved the contract, said Jordan Cormody, Schneiderman's deputy press secretary.
At a bid opening in October, Murnane submitted the apparent low construction bid, at $10,435,900. Also bidding was Jersen Construction, of Waterford, with a bid of $11,383,000. They were the only two bids received under a design-build system, in which a single contractor would be responsible for all aspects of construction.
Such contracts are usually awarded within 45 days, but this review took longer because DOT officials weren't familiar with Murnane, which has done extensive work in the past for the state college system and other state agencies, but not for DOT.
The project has $10 million in federal funding, and Cuomo, who visited the old station in February after highlighting the project during a State of the State speech, pledged the state funds to cover the rest of the cost, including demolishing the old station and complete track repairs.
Construction of the new station would be the second phase of a two-phase project. Demolition of the old station took place over the summer under a separate $5.4 million contract, which also included repairs to the elevated viaduct that carries the rails through downtown Schenectady.
Cuomo has taken an interest in the project, listing it among his 2017 priorities in January, and coming to Proctors to announce design changes in July.
Construction of the station is expected to be finished by November. For now, passengers coming to or leaving Schenectady are using a temporary platform Amtrak built on the north side of Liberty Street.
Schenectady officials have said for years that a new train station is important to downtown's redevelopment. The new station will bear more of a resemblance to the demolished Union station than to the utilitarian Amtrak station that opened in 1979.
About 60,000 passengers per year use the Schenectady station, but local officials believe it will become busier with the opening of Rivers Casino & Resort, as well as Schenectady County's heightened tourism promotion efforts. The station part of the planned high-speed rail corridor between New York City and Niagara Falls.
"The new train station will continue the revitalization of downtown Schenectady while providing visitors with as great first impression of our community," said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority. "We appreciate the leadership and personal involvement of Gov. Cuomo in making this new station possible, along with the hard work of Sen. (Charles) Schumer and Congressman (Paul) Tonko who also championed the new Schenectady station project."